SENIOR STAFF WRITER
HOPES that national dialogue may soon finally take place, to help resolve Zimbabwe’s decades-long political and economic crises, were raised further after opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora, pictured, said yesterday that he would soon reach out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and others in this regard.
Speaking to the Daily News, the new MDC boss — an underrated but consummate politician — reiterated that the dialogue that he had in mind would involve all key stakeholders, including political parties, the church, labour, business and civil society.
This comes after Jameson Timba, an unflappable close ally of Nelson Chamisa, also restated last week that the MDC Alliance leader remained ready to engage with Mnangagwa — adding significantly, that ED’s long claimed “legitimacy question” would not be “a pre-condition for dialogue”.
It also comes as a large cross section of Zimbabweans has said that the time is now opportune for Mnangagwa, Mwonzora and Chamisa to sit down together with others, to help resolve Zimbabwe’s long-standing myriad crises.
“The resolution or the strategy of the MDC to engage in dialogue is as old as the formation of the MDC itself. It was taken in earnest after 2008, when we had a resolution as a party to engage in dialogue, which brought about the government of national unity (GNU).
“After the 2013 elections, we again made a resolution of the standing committee, in a town called Magaliesburg in South Africa — during one of our strategic retreats with our late great leader Morgan Tsvangirai — that we were going to make dialogue the mainstay of our political strategy.
“This was aimed at making the life of Zimbabweans better. In 2020, our national council also talked about the need to have dialogue in this country,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“And, of course, at our first national standing committee (held last week) … we restated that we must have dialogue in this country, and that this dialogue must be centred on those aspects that improve the lives of the Zimbabwean people.
“The standing committee then also said we must make sure that dialogue is initiated in this country. Of course, we have not received anything from the government but that does not stop us from initiating dialogue.
“In our view, this dialogue must be broad-based, inclusive, genuine and unconditional, and we are going to be initiating that dialogue with the government,” Mwonzora further told the Daily News yesterday.
“We are also going to be dialoguing with other political parties within the opposition, those who see things the way we see them.
“We will also reach out to civil society as well as the churches. We will also reach out to labour and business.
“The reason for dialogue is because we want to engage in a new type of politics. Gone are the days of the politics of hate, the politics of acrimony, the politics of rancour. We want to bring about politics of rational disputation,” Mwonzora added.
“First of all, and to make this dialogue a reality, we must appreciate that we must have a good conceptual understanding of what meaningful dialogue is … which has three aspects. This means that it must be inclusive, unconditional and genuine.
“It must also be done with a view of acting in the best interest of all Zimbabweans. The average Zimbabwean right now does not think of politics everyday.
“They think of the welfare of their families, the education of their children, the health of their loved ones, food and other daily amenities in life.
“We must also make sure that we understand that Zimbabwe is in a crisis and that this crisis is multi-faceted,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“We have the crisis of the economy. We have the crisis of poverty. We have the crisis of contested legitimacy … and we must deal with all this.
“So, there must also be free political activity in this country. We also need to deal with the issue of traditional leaders and how they may serve their people without fear or favour, and with respect to political freedoms that people have.
“We need to deal with the safety and security of all people. The Zimbabwean person must be secure, and it is the duty of the State to ensure that Zimbabweans are secure,” Mwonzora also said.
“It is my hope that dialogue will be all-inclusive and that should Chamisa want to be part of it he is welcome. On our part as the MDC, we are going to talk to the MDC Alliance, or whatever they chose to call themselves.
“They are Zimbabweans and if they think they have anything to contribute they are welcome. But we will not impose anything on other political leaders.
“But again, we need to stress to them that the problems of this country will be solved when people sit down and talk. Of course we will also be talking to other political parties,” the MDC president added.
“We know that we are the official opposition by virtue of our representation in Parliament, but we also know that those parties smaller than us are important as well as they represent certain interests within the society and we cannot belittle them, and we want them to come to the dialogue table.
“But our dialogue must be expansive and it must include people other than politicians. It must include all interest groups in our society.
“There are no GNU talks for now. I also don’t know what this dialogue will culminate into, but we want to say that as the MDC we will do whatever is in the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe,” Mwonzora further told the Daily News.
“So, the most important thing is to start the dialogue and then after people have agreed on the dialogue, they can then look at the mechanisms of making sure that those issues are carried into practice.
“If a GNU is in the best interest of Zimbabwe, so be it. If the speeding of elections or having elections in 2023 is the solution, so be it. We want to act in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people.
“As MDC, we will be moving around — of course within the limits of the regulations of Covid-19 protocols — asking our people what they would want,” Mwonzora also said.
All this comes after Timba reiterated last week that Chamisa was still happy to engage with Mnangagwa.
Speaking to the Daily News, the even-tempered MDC Alliance secretary for presidential affairs also said that Chamisa had been among the first leaders to call for necessary national dialogue — adding, however, that he had been “ignored” by Mnangagwa and Zanu PF.
“Our position on the issue of legitimacy and dialogue has not changed. The legitimacy question is not a pre-condition for dialogue, but an agenda item for that dialogue.
“Chamisa was the first to call for dialogue, but was spurned by Zanu PF which said there was nothing to talk about,” he said, amid national hopes that the political climate in the country had never been more conducive for all-inclusive talks.